The two main Opposition parties in Parliament – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) – have between the two of them decided on a candidate for the position of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.
Since the resignation of former Deputy Speaker and Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) leader Lenox Shuman from Parliament, the position of Deputy Speaker has been vacant. The New Movement (TNM) leader, Dr Asha Kissoon has taken Shuman’s seat as Member of Parliament (MP).
However, there’s no guarantee she will take his place as Deputy Speaker. During a press conference on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton said that APNU and its former coalition partner AFC, have come up with a candidate of their own.
“We have identified someone to be the Deputy Speaker. But we’re not prepared to disclose the name of the person at this time. But among the Members of Parliament, we’ve sat and agreed on this. And this is both APNU and AFC,” Norton said.
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly usually comes from the Opposition. Back in 2020, Shuman had been elected Speaker of the House after being nominated by Prime Minister Mark Phillips.
Former Speaker of the House and MP at the time, Raphael Trotman had been the APNU/AFC’s nominee. When the appointment was put to the vote among the MPs, however, Shuman had emerged victorious.
After not getting their way, the APNU/AFC parliamentarians had staged a walkout, where MP Cathy Hughes, who had nominated Trotman, expressed the party’s dissatisfaction with the choice for Deputy Speaker. However, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira had contended that even though the Speaker traditionally comes from the Government, there is no specification as to which side of the Opposition or which Opposition party must take up the post of Deputy Speaker.
In fact, she had reminded that it was the APNU/AFC – as combined Opposition parties before coalescing – that first broke that tradition in 2011 when they hijacked both posts from the then minority PPP/C Government.
Shuman’s term as Deputy Speaker ended when he resigned in March 2023, as per the term limit imposed by the joinder party’s agreement to rotate their seat in Parliament. The joinder parties – LJP, TNM and A New and United Guyana (ANUG) – collectively won a single seat in the 65-seat National Assembly following the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.
The number of votes indicated that of the trio, LJP secured the most votes with 2657, while ANUG and TNM secured 2313 and 244, respectively. The duration of the terms, according to the joinder agreement, had stipulated that LJP in the form of Shuman would occupy the seat for two years, six months, and 20 days, while ANUG would serve for two years five months, and TNM for 80 days. (G3)